It was a little warmer than usual last month; several 80-degree days left some of us sweating a little sooner in the year than normal.
According to Paul Close, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, this February was the warmest one on record (since records began in 1911) for the Bradenton-Sarasota area.
The average temperature for February was 71.9 degrees, according to the Close. That beat the previous record set in 1959 by 1.4 degrees, and was 8.5 degrees higher than the month of February’s normal temperature, as noted in the NWS preliminary February 2018 and winter 2017 to 2018 climate data report.
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Close said there was a big, high-pressure area sitting over the region that blocked storms from entering the area to cool things down or bring rain.
SRQ was not alone in sweltering in record heat last month. Across the state, several other areas also set records, including all of the NWS’ South Florida climate sites. In the preliminary report, which looked at temperatures from Feb. 1 to Feb. 25, a majority of Tampa Bay communities were on pace to set records as well.
The Bradenton-Sarasota winter in general (measured in December, January and February by the NWS) may not have been record-setting, but so far still saw a higher than average temperature. Winter 2017-18’s average temperature through Feb. 25 was 65.2 degrees, compared to the normal of 62.7 degrees, according to the NWS. The warmest winter on record was in 1931, when the average was 69.1 degrees.
“As is typical during a La Niña winter, we’ve seen a wide range of temperatures with several days where morning lows were blow freezing but overall for the winter (December/January/February) temperatures have average slightly above normal,” the preliminary report noted.
But those who were here last year also likely recall warmer-than-usual winter weather, and they’re right. The 2016-17 winter was the fourth warmest winter for the area, with an average of 67 degrees over the three months, according to the NWS.
There was also noticeably low level of rainfall last month. The Bradenton-Sarasota area saw just 0.44 inches of rain, Close said, while normal rainfall for the month is 2.7 inches. Close said that made for the 12th driest February on record.
But the heat won’t last much longer. According to Close, Thursday was likely the last day for it.
Starting Friday, things should cool back down “to where we should be,” Close said.
According to NWS forecasts, Friday’s high is expected to be in the upper 70s, with a low in the mid 50s. Through the weekend, highs will stay in the mid 70s with lows hovering around 50, with mostly sunny days.